Hello and welcome, my name is Joshua Berry, and I’m here to cover group B action from 2022 World Cup Qualifying live from the Olympic stadium in Athens. Tonight, Greece, who sit third of the group and in need of a win to keep their qualification hopes alive, take on Spain, who sit second in the group looking to chase down group B leaders Sweden in order to gain automatic qualification rather than a play-off, something I am sure Luis Enrique and his players will be desperately looking to avoid. Join me as I bring you all the build-up and all the action from this decisive fixture in group B. Kick off is at 7:45.
As already mentioned, tonight is a must win for the hosts. John Van’t Schip and his men will be looking to do something that no Greek team has managed to do since 2003, beat Spain. They currently sit third in their group, four points off Spain who are above them in second. Automatic qualification is out of reach for Greece, so a win tonight will place them one point off the play-off position. Although an outside chance, hope is still there for these Greek players.
Spain, who trail to Sweden in the group by two points, will be looking for victory tonight, especially after Sweden slipped up 2-0 earlier this evening to Georgia. This will give La Roja a massive boost in confidence tonight as they know a win will take them top of group B, avoiding a potential play-off, and gaining automatic qualification. With all to play for, it promises to be a great game.
Let’s take a look at what happened last time these two met in March:
Greece have a few suspensions to deal with. Their captain is suspended after picking up two yellow cards throughout the campaign, Chatzidiakos is suspended after seeing red against Sweden.
Spain are without Ferran Torres, Ansu Fati and Gerard Moreno, who are all out through injury.
The line-ups are out:
The Spanish team for tonight:
The Greek line-up tonight:
Kick off to come
1′ Game underway.
4′ Bright start from Greece.
The hosts are keeping the ball well in the early minutes of the game, and are not allowing Spain much time on the ball, they will have to keep this up in order to get a result tonight.
9′ Spain are seeing more of the ball.
Spain are knocking the ball around here but not threatening enough, Greece seem happy to allow the away side to have the ball, maybe waiting to play on the break.
15′ Gavi is causing problems.
The 17-year-old, playing down this left-hand side, looks promising every time he has the ball and is the only one willing to run at this Greek defence.
19′ Goal Disallowed!
Greece think they’ve taken the lead after winning the ball in the midfield. Giorgos Masouras is sent through and finishes well to the goalkeeper’s left. Only to find the assistant with his flag. Replays show it’s the correct decision.
24′ PENALTY TO SPAIN!
Corner comes in for Spain and is knocked down to Inigo Martinez, who seems to be caught by Dimitris Giannoulis. The Greek players are protesting, VAR will have a look.
Clumsy defending by Giannoulis.
26′ GOAL! Spain lead.
The penalty is whipped into the bottom left corner by Pablo Sarabia, to score his fifth goal for Spain. As it stands, Spain top group B.
29′ Spain have had 80% of the possession so far.
The home side will need to be braver with the ball in order to get back into this one, Spain are in control.
33′ Yellow Card Emmanouli Siopis.
The Greek midfielder is booked for dissent and will now miss Greece’s last game of the campaign.
36′ Good save by Vlachidimos.
Alvaro Morata does well to glide past the Greece defence down the left-hand side of the box. Bearing down on goal, his shot is saved well by Odisseas Vlachodimos with his legs.
40′ Greece seem to be hanging on at the moment.
Spain are threatening and will want a second before the break. Greece need to be braver and will want to take more risks when they have the ball in Spain’s half.
43′ Spain have completed 400 passes so far compared to Greece’s 80. The hosts need to improve in possession in the second-half.
45′ There will be two minutes of added time.
Half-Time: Spain lead 1-0.
Complete domination from Spain so far tonight, who, as it stands, top group B – taking control away from Sweden. The only thing that will disappoint Luis Enrique is that they only have the one goal to show for all their possession in that half. They will be looking to kill the game off in the second 45.
Greece will be disappointed so far. Van’t Schip’s side will be annoyed at the goal they conceded after clumsy defending by Norwich City defender Giannoulis. They need to be more efficient when they have the ball; the home side have been wasteful so far and will need to improve. They do need to win to keep their qualification hopes alive.
Second half to come.
Greece make two changes at half-time:
Douvikas comes on for Pavlidis
Tzolis comes on for Masouras
46′ Second half underway
48′ Yellow card for Sarabia.
The PSG man is booked after a late challenge on Tsimikas.
54′ Yellow card Tsimikas.
Tsimikas is now shown yellow for a challenge on Sarabia.
54′ Wide. A rare Greek attempt.
Tzolis, the substitute, pulls an effort wide. It takes a slight deflection off martinez and will be a corner.
59′ Yellow card Dimitrios Goutas.
Booked for a late one on Olmo.
64′ Spain are not as in control as before, as the game becomes a little cagey with a lot of fouls stopping play. Gavi goes down after a clash with Bouchalakis and the 17-year-old looks like he’ll be forced off here. Very impressive performance from him today.
71′ Greece have had more of the ball in this second 45 but have struggled to create anything clear cut. The home side are running out of time here.
74′ Rodri has an attempt but it is hit way over the bar. The away side’s pass count has hit over 600. Complete control.
76′ Great defending.
Better from Greece as they work the ball down the left-hand side. Tsimikas fires in an inviting ball for Tzolis, however Martinez meets it first and clears it away.
80′ CHANCE, it should be 1-1.
Tsimikas puts in another perfect cross into the Spain penalty area. This time from a free-kick, Tzavellas looks to be there to head home, however, it just escapes his reach. A second look shows he may have been offside anyway.
85′ Swedish fans will be wanting a late Greek goal tonight to send them back to the top, leaving it in their hands. They play Spain in the final qualifying game in what will be, as it stands, a decider on who tops the group and gains automatic qualification to Qatar.
90′ A mix of a few injuries and a lot of substitutions in this half means there will be five minutes added on.
90+2′ Yellow card Tzavellas
Late challenge on Fornals.
Full-Time: Greece 0-1 Spain
A dominant display by Spain tonight in Athens; if they avoid defeat to Sweden, they will top the group and head to Qatar. Only one goal to show for their dominance tonight.
Greece, as it standsm will not be at the World Cup next December. They lacked any kind of fight tonight and will need Sweden to beat Spain in order to gain access to the play-offs. A very disappointing night for them at home.
Thanks for joining me tonight as Spain out pass Greece and head top of group B. Goodnight.